Friday, March 24, 2023

Superfruits and smoothies: fast-growing Playa Bowls franchise to open Mayfaire location

Playa Bowls, which specializes in acai berry and pitaya fruit bowls, is set to open in July. (Port City Daily photo/Mark Darrough)
Playa Bowls, which specializes in ‘superfruit’ bowls, juices and smoothies, is set to open in mid-July at the Mayfaire shopping center. (Port City Daily photo/Mark Darrough)

WILMINGTON — Five years ago, two New Jersey surfers were living above a pizza shop in Belmar Beach, 30 miles south of New York City.

Abby Taylor and Robert Giuliani struck a deal with the owner to set up a street cart selling bowls of acai — dark purple berries cultivated from Amazonian palm trees — that they had grown fond of during surf trips to Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, and Puerto Rico. Many of the towns they visited sold local variations of acai bowls or pitaya (dragon fruit) bowls, both known as ‘superfruits’ for their rich make-up of nutrients and oxidants.

Five years later, the two founders of Playa Bowls are set to open their 74th location on the east coast and their first in North Carolina. The store is located next to Chipotle near the Main Street entrance of the Mayfaire shopping center.

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In November, Taylor was named to Forbes’ 30 Under 30 list; according to Forbes, the superfruit franchise was on pace to reach $30 million in 2018 revenue.

“It began as a dream that we talked about on our rad surf trips — driven by a passion for the surf lifestyle as well as the superfruits and cultures we encountered along the way,” Giuliani wrote on the company’s website. Playa Bowls offers 50 menu items, each customizable. Before choosing toppings, customers can build their bowls beginning with a choice of seven different bases: acai, pitaya, blended banana, chia seed, coconut, kale, or oatmeal. 

Featured bowls range from the Pink Flamingo (pitaya blend topped with granola, banana, and honey) to the Nutella Bowl (pure acai topped with banana, strawberry, coconut flakes, and nutella drizzle). Smoothies, juices, soups, and poke bowls are also on the menu. 

According to the website, Taylor and Giuliani recreated their favorite recipes discovered on their surf travels with “their own twist at home at the Jersey Shore.”

They also list the health benefits of the seven superfruits:

  • Acai berry: boosts energy, heals cells, stimulates immune system.
  • Pitaya: full of phytonutrients, stimulates metabolism, aids digestion.
  • Chia seeds: good source of Omega-3 fatty acids, proven to protect agains heart disease and stroke.
  • Raw coconuts: rich in fiber.
  • Kale: full of protein, fiber, iron, and vitamins A, C, and K.
  • Bananas: full of potassium, calcium, magnesium, iron, folate, niacin, riboflavin, and B6.

The Mayfaire store expects to open in mid-July, according to Greater Wilmington Business Journal.

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